The Cowens Guide to FSDUs & Personalised Retail Units

Updated: Feb 28


As part of our ongoing retail fit outs, we are often tasked with creating and producing innovative free-standing display units.


These FSDUs are the ideal solution for displaying on sale goods but with so many variations of items to hold, it requires plenty of thought into how to make the most from the substrates available, along with how to create the most visual impact to shoppers.


FSDUs need to capture the attention of store visitors either to encourage impulse buys or develop brand awareness.


We think of your retail display units as providing a combination of both of these elements - they need to look impressive yet be effective and functional.

An FSDU campaign should pay for itself in increased product revenue for the brand and for the item being promoted.

Our in-house design and production team can efficiently create hundreds of FSDUs using the same design, or for A/B testing, we can also produce smaller numbers of differing designs.



FSDU Substrates


Most FSDUs are manufactured out of corrugated cardboard, usually EB flute.


Cardboard is the most economical substrate and when creased, folded, tabbed and erected, it remains sturdy and fit for purpose.

We also use honeycomb boards such as Reboard, Dufaylite or Xanita where a more substantial retail display unit is needed.

These honeycomb boards can hold a much greater weight so can be used for products that may not have been the obvious choice for FSDUs.


MDF is another FSDU substrate but is heavy to transport and usually needs to be shipped ready built.

Shipping MDF units takes a lot of transit space and can be uneconomical. We would recommend honeycomb board in place of MDF as it weighs considerable less and can be flat packed for shipping. Believe to or not, it’s also as strong as MDF.

If you are using MDF for your retail displays, get in touch to discuss the cost savings in logistics and production from switching to honeycomb board.




Manufacturing FSDUs


Using our EFI flatbed printer we print the artwork onto the substrate to create your personalised retail branding.

Everything from short run seasonal graphics to bold brand imagery is achievable - the FSDU should be designed to grab the attention of passers by.


Make sure your artwork is original and inventive - if you struggle with this, get in touch.

Using templates either supplied by the customer or ones we have developed ourselves, the AXYZ cutting table trims out the FSDU from the printed flat sheet.

Here we create any interlocking tabs, shelves, fascia pieces, manufacturing everything to fit together simply and intuitively.

After cutting out, the QC department will thoroughly test to ensure that the retail display unit works exactly as it should.



Design Ideas For FSDUs


Think about where in the store your FSDUs will find their home.


Will they be at the end of aisles, near the checkout or somewhere else in store.

Can they be viewed from 360 degrees or just the front and sides? Their retail positioning will guide your design choices.


Will there be competition from other FSDUs?

Do you need a more innovative display to really stand out and catch attention?

We can create unique FSDU designs by working alongside your branding team to maximise impact.


Look around the next time you’re in a store.

Take inspiration from the stands out there - what works, what could be changed?

Remember that your product may need a different approach than someone else but the more ideas, the more potential invention.


Most FSDUs are from 1 - 2m in height so think of all the real estate we can print onto.

Work with the printed panels to guide the eye of the shopper to your product offer and make sure your most important message cannot be missed.


Effective branding that grabs attention is more important than ever in today’s challenging retail environment.


If you’re looking to disrupt the status quo and make more of an impact with your retail displays, talk to us on 0151 647 8081 or sales@cowensigns.com

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